Restoration of 63 T-Bird
At age 93, my Dad who has Alzheimer's disease
put his 63 t-bird in the shop for a full restoration.
This is a car that he purchased more than 20 yrs
ago for his grandson who was not into old cars.
The problem is that the car has been in a state of
restoration for 3 1/2 years. Dad is not 96 years old
with numerous medical issues and I am currently
his daughter and caregiver..trying to get his
personal affairs in order. Can you tell me approx
how long it takes for a full restoration and cost.
Everyone I have spoken to says that this is too long
for a restoration. I am concerned that the guy has
prolonged this restorstion to charge Dad more
money. The total restoration cost was about $17k.
I am very angry that he has taken advantage of sn
old senile man with Alzheimer's disease.
Do you have any paperwork for the restoration? A signed quote or work order? Can you verify what work has been done? Was any money paid up front? Did the shop or individual state a delivery time? You should contact a lawyer, there are lawyers who specialize in "collector car" fraud. To be sure, hiring a shop/person to restore a car is a very hands on experience, that requires CONSTANT communication, any shop that takes on a 93 year old's project car already seems dubious, and then to milk that process out for 3.5 years... you are right to be suspicious. Find all the relevant paperwork, including the title, then get a lawyer. Let the lawyer talk to the shop FIRST. If you talk to the shop owner directly you may inadvertently make the situation worse. Just for the record, we don't know that this guy was attempting anything nefarious, it may be he is faithfully restoring the car and the process does take time. But I would have a lawyer sort all of that out so you can get your father's car back and got your money's worth for the restoration.
After reading Ken's excellent advice, I'd like to add to it. Restorations vary by quality. A basic restoration on a "63 T-Bird might take two years or more and cost at least the $17,000 that you've been charged. A restoration to "show" condition could cost $50,000 or more and take in excess of four years. It takes that long to find parts whether original or to have fabricated. Look at the original contract and any documentation to see what the agreed to scope-of-work actually was. Restorers who take on a car like this are MOST often honest, but are in the work to make a living. Go into this with an open mind. Meet the restorer and if he seems honest and dedicated, he probably is. Assess what's been done and evaluate the process, so far, and keep in mind that he might have tried to contact your Dad often with questions or to seek guidance for this project, but your Dad might not have been in the mental condition to respond as needed. That could be the reason for the long duration. Once you've assessed the situation, you could have the process continue, or get the car in its state of repairs and take it to an auction, whether local, or a name like Barrett-Jackson. You might be surprised by the results.
$17 thousand would not be enough for a full restoration. Maybe just paint or the drive train. Your dad may have run low on money or he lost the ability to communicate with them. If the car is complete and can be driven it is worth more than the restoration cost. Post a few photos if you can.